Three artists who interpret their individual environments open at Gallery 208 and the McLeod Gallery at Up and Coming Weekly on Rowan Street, June 26. The outdoor sculptures by Wilmington artist Paul Hill are installed in front of the business; inside the gallery hosts Raleigh printmaking artist, Ashley Worley. Local artist Noreda Hess opens in the McLeod Gallery with an exhibit of photographs.
    The work of all three artists can be enjoyed by visitors to Gallery 208 during the opening reception, each artist will be introduced and talk briefly about their work. All three will briefly reflect on what inspires their work and ways they individually interpret personal themes. The gallery opening is free and open to the public.
    {mosimage}Paul Hill is exhibiting a series of life-size fabricated sculptures. Visitors to the gallery will see selections from his animal series. Made from a mixture of fabricated metals and found objects, Hill’s sculptures result in seemingly fanciful interpretations — until one reads the titles! 
    In the sculpture titled Insatiable, a goat fabricated out of metal, carefully balances on a decaying and bent barrel. Hill shared with me how Insatiable is a mixed-media sculpture that addresses the oil crisis. Knowing the artist’s intent puts a whole new spin on the meaning.
    Natural Progression is a giraffe-like animal, somewhat zany, and stands 11 feet tall. Hill said it “originated from my many sketches that I do when thinking about works to create. The giraffe is a direct representation of my sketch.” Natural Progression is a superb example of the way Hill can integrate many different types of metals and found objects into a seamless work.
    Hill says on his Web site: “As a metal sculptor who works primarily in steel, stainless steel, bronze and copper. I prefer to engage the direct-metal approach to sculpture. In this particular discipline of work, steel, found objects, etc., are added, piece-by-piece, moving the sculpture to its final form. Working this way lets me and the work become spontaneous, exciting and boundless. In my mind, there is a decisive idea of what the completed piece will represent, but I am constantly amazed and thrilled at its final outcome.”
    A full time artist and owner of Paul Hill Sculpture Studios, Hill explained most of his sculptures arrive through “private commissions and are in homes, businesses, corporations and public forums from New York to Florida.” (To see more of Hill’s sculptures, visit his Web site at www.absolutearts.com/metalforms/)
    Like Hill, Ashley Worley is another artist who has exhibited quite extensively in the region and nationally.  Worley, a printmaker from Raleigh, has shown her figurative works in a group exhibit at the Fayetteville Museum of Art. Those who have seen Worley’s work will remember this artist — the one who created exaggerated figures in an interior, interactions between women friends in a moving car — all her figures were extremely foreshortening to evoke the an unnerving state of tension.
    For the Gallery 208 exhibit, Worley has included a series of urban scenes. Large in scale, her relief prints have shifted from the more direct way of involving the figure in space to an inference, the figure is present by its absence in the stark black and white large relief print.
    In one of Worley’s relief prints, a series of utility poles are set against a lit sky background; the tops of trees balance the open space, a tower looms to the left side of the print. We are reminded of the function of the telephone lines, the pattern of the distant tower competes with utility poles — by absence, human-ness is present.
    Worley states her intent clearly in her artist’s statement: “Over time, my inspiration has shifted. Rather than interactions with other people, I have found inspiration in the interaction with my physical environment. My neighborhood, like many urban neighborhoods, is comprised of residential and industrial properties side by side. On outings, I pass beautifully manicured lawns directly next to noisy businesses. I am inspired by the diversity in my neighborhood and I begin to imagine the stories that take place all within the buildings or streets around me. So my works, which are specifically landscapes, have a subtle narrative component.”
    Like Worley, Noreda Hess’s photography focuses on finding new meaning in the overlooked. Hess, a local artist who has exhibited her photographs in local and regional galleries, is exhibiting a series of photographs of the overlooked places and exterior still lifes in her surroundings. Paint and rusted boxes become abstract compositions, decaying paint on the front of a building’s doorway becomes a reminder of time, ever present and creating its own pattern of passage. The mundane, something we would pass by without a second glance becomes an abstract painting for Hess — painted by the eye of a photographer.
    Whereas Gallery 208 is coordinated by the Fayetteville Museum of Art to predominantly bring in artists from out of the local area, the McLeod Gallery, considerable smaller, highlights only local artists. Hess is only the second photographer who has been invited to exhibit in the McLeod Gallery since Up and Coming Weekly relocated to its Rowan Street location.
Showing the photography of Hess, the sculpture of Hill and the prints of Worley is a testimony to the variety of mediums an artist can explore to express themselves.
    Up and Coming Weekly welcomes the community to Gallery 208 and the McLeod Gallery to attend the reception, meet the artists, see their work and celebrate the arts in Up and Coming style, Thursday, June 26, between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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